INTERVIEW: Michel Melzer - General Manager at Mövenpick Resort Kuredhivaru Maldives

The General Manager of Mövenpick Resort Kuredhivaru Maldives, Michael Melzer shared with TheArrival his expertise and insight on the hospitality industry. 

1: You’ve been in the hotel industry for more than 35 years and you started your career as a chef in Germany and later became Food & Beverage specialist in several hotels, what motivated you to stay with culinary art?

MM: I am a very passionate and seasoned hotelier, having spent several years in Southeast Asia, working across different brands and opening hotels and resorts in beautiful destinations like Phu Quoc and the Maldives. I take great pride in meeting and talking to our guests, especially when they are dining, to ensure that they are enjoying their experience. What makes a memorable dining occasion is the passion of the F&B team, the quality of food and wine, and the ambiance of the destination. The ability to make our guests smile, or express their enjoyment and thankfulness to our team, is the main thing that has motivated me throughout my culinary career.

2: How do you perceive your new role as a GM?

MM: It is challenging and rewarding at the same time. I feel very privileged to be given the opportunity to open the first Mövenpick property in the Maldives and very proud to be working together with a professional team from more than 24 nationalities to bring the brand to life.

3: Tell us a bit about the other markets you worked in and how that compares to your current role?

MM: I have had an amazing journey in the hospitality industry. With IHG, I had the privilege of working with some fantastic properties in interesting destinations across Asia, from the Maldives to Clark in the Philippines. In 2015 I moved to Vietnam to open a new resort on the island of Phu Quoc for Vinpearl, one of the country’s largest hotel developers. I also spent two years in Nha Trang on the south-central coast of Vietnam. I was excited to return to the Maldives; the warm and friendly Maldivian hospitality, the nice weather and amazing surroundings, compared to the bustling city life in Vietnam, made it easy to draw me back.

4: How would you define the Mövenpick hotels chain and resorts?

MM: Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts is a very distinct brand with strong Food and Beverage heritage, signature experiences such as our Chocolate Hour and Healthy shots, and an emphasis on families. The brand is caring and giving, highlighted each year by the Kilo of Kindness global campaign, through which we donate food, clothing, and educational supplies to those in need. Above all, Mövenpick has a “Swissness” that defines the brand - an efficiency, attention to detail and delivery of excellent service. The brand was born in Switzerland and retains its national character to this day.

5:  Why did Mövenpick take so long to enter the Maldives?

Patrick Basset, Chief Operating Officer for AccorHotels Upper Southeast & Northeast Asia and the Maldives:

“Maldives is a unique destination for many discerning investors, with a highly competitive environment for resort operators. It is at the heart of our business to offer our guests an authentic and friendly experience that allows them to discover the diversity of the destination’s sights, sounds and hospitality. As such, we need to focus even more on our guests so that we can deliver experiences that are above and beyond what our competition can offer.

We have gone from 15 brands to more than 30 brands in the last couple of years and we are increasingly looking to expand our footprint in luxury and lifestyle hotels. We are now the #2 operator in terms of luxury hotels in the world with more than 600 luxury and upscale hotels in our network. The addition of our many new brands over the last couple of years including Fairmont, Raffles, Swissotel and Mövenpick allows us to enter the Maldives and accelerate our pace of growth with a wider offering to our owners and investors.”

6: What new attractions has this chain brought to the hotel industry in Maldives?

MM: Mӧvenpick Resort Kuredhivaru is one of the few properties located in the Noonu Atoll reef, which is home to some of the most beautiful diving spots in the Maldives. We will also be easily accessible from the new airport on Maafaru Island, which will open in early 2019. Along with our collection of overwater pool villas, beach pool suites and beach spa pool residences, we have a number of stand-out facilities including our dive and water sports centres, Sun Spa by Esthederm, tennis court, Little Birds Club and innovative F&B outlets. The Maldives has never before seen Mӧvenpick’s Chocolate Hour, which is hosted daily and offers our guests complimentary chocolate treats for them to enjoy after a day in the sun.

7: How do you define exceptional customer experience?

MM: I would use a quote from Mövenpick’s founder, Ueli Prager: “We are successful because we do ordinary things in an extraordinary way.” This underpins our service philosophy and keeps us focused on creating memorable moments for our guests. We need to be passionate about what we do, nurture genuine relationships and deliver service with a personal touch. It is the actions that we take as employees, guided by our values, that help to differentiate us from the competition. Under Mövenpick’s “we make moments” service concept, we want to create powerful memories that last a lifetime. The combination of these moments, from our team members and guests, creates the basis of the Mövenpick experience.

8: Do you offer any loyalty programs or special offers to your guests?

MM: A series of special offers and promotions, including our launch promotion, are featured on our brand website, 

9: What are your plans to ensure a luxurious and memorable guest experience in the future?

MM: We are now seeing an influx of international hotel brands entering the Maldives to compete in the upscale and luxury segments. To differentiate ourselves from the competition, we need to stay true to Mövenpick’s hospitality values and ensure that “we make moments” by doing ordinary things in an extraordinary way. Each team member needs to understand the importance of providing genuine service, and be able to bring the spirit of hospitality to life. I empower my team to make decisions and our entire management team has an open-door policy. 

10: What direction do you see the Maldives tourism industry heading in over the next five to ten years?

MM: Global tourism continues to grow and expectations are high. The expansion of the international airport in Malé, as well the development of domestic airports, will increase accessibility and support the growth of the industry. But preserving the environment is an ongoing challenge and we need to be very careful. I believe that owners and operators of resorts, along with the government, should focus on developing infrastructure and protecting the environment. The Maldives and its tourism industry only exist because of its natural beauty, so sustainable tourism should be the primary focus of any developer entering the destination.